One of the strangest things about flying for me is that it is the perfect time to work. I grab a nice set of earbuds, a laptop, and for about three or four hours on a trip to Vegas or Dallas I'm in the zone, cranking on my email or chatting away on Slack.

Except for one problem. The guy next to me is invading my space with his elbows. Or a coffee cup--which is pretty much a required accoutrement in my daily routine at this point--slides around like a fish bowl on a yacht. Frustrations abound.

Fortunately, I've found a few handy accessories that have helped me stay productive and finish my projects on a flight. They are a little unusual, but that's also what makes them helpful. If you try any of these, write me back with your full report.

1. Vector Cup Holder ($50)

Yes, it's a cup holder for your fold-back tray. Since it is so thin and light, you can fit it into a sleeve on your laptop bag. A hinge twists into place, and you pull back on a lever and clip the holder into place. It's a little spendy at $50, but it's a coffee savior.

2. Omnicharge Omni 20 ($299)

The problem with most portable chargers is that they don't really last long enough or power up your gadgets long enough. The Omni 20 has a built-in normal AC power outlet, so it works with any laptop. At 1.4 pounds, it's a tad heavy for your laptop bag. You can charge your iPhone or Samsung phone about 5-9 times, or the MacBook Air to 100%.

3. Chipolo Classic ($75 for four)

I recommend these small plastic trackers for any flight. Add one to your laptop bag, slip one in your wallet, and keep one in your coat. Then, stay focused on your work. An alarm sounds if anyone steals your gear. You can get an alert if you leave anything behind. The chip connects to a phone, and the small plastic clips are easy to lose if you relocate them. 

4. Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 ($899)

You may have picked up on a theme here. I like to keep devices charged up. The Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 is a handy Windows tablet and laptop in one, and has an automatic flip-out kickstand (set it on the tray and the stand pops out). The wall charger doubles as a portable charger. Minor gripe? It's not an iPad, and Windows is not a great tablet OS.

5. Sennheiser HD 1 Free ($200)

These high-quality earbuds, which I've been testing for a few weeks, sound incredible with everything from pop to country. The strap goes around the back of your neck so you don't have to deal with cords. At the airport, the built-in mic means you can make phone calls. The HD 1 Free requires a charge-up, though, that lasts six hours.

Published on: Feb 20, 2018